Short communication: Differences in genetic merit for visually-assessed body condition score materialises as phenotypic differences in tactile-based body condition score in commercial dairy cows
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CitationD.P. Berry, M.M. Kelleher, Short communication: Differences in genetic merit for visually-assessed body condition score materialises as phenotypic differences in tactile-based body condition score in commercial dairy cows, Animal, Volume 15, Issue 4, 2021, 100181, ISSN 1751-7311, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.animal.2021.100181.
AbstractBody condition score (BCS) is a known risk factor for cow health and well-being. Many different BCS scales and systems for assessment exist;while the scales used for assessing BCS vary, differences in how BCS is assessed (i.e., visual versus visual plus tactile) and the extent of training and experience of the assessor (i.e., professional linear classifiers versus producers) also contributes to the underlying variability. Registered dairy cows globally are routinely assessed for linear type traits which describe biological extremes in the morphological attributes; BCS and a correlated trait angularity are within this suite of traits assessed. These linear-type data are used to generate estimates of genetic merit (predicted transmitting ability), but how these estimates manifest themselves as phenotypic differences when assessed by producers on commercial multiparous cows has never been quantified. To evaluate this, 58440 phenotypic BCS records from 48823 lactations in 38608 cows were used. Associations were undertaken using linear mixed models relating phenotypic BCS to genetic merit after accounting for nuisance factors. Differences in genetic merit for either BCS or angularity (assessed visually by professionals on a 1 to 9 scale just once during lactation in primiparous registered cows) translated to phenotypic difference in BCS (assessed by producers using both tactile and visual assessment on a 1 to 5 scale across lactation in commercial dairy cows). The partial correlation between test phenotypic BCS and genetic merit for either BCS or angularity was 0.13 and 0.10, respectively. Based on the model coefficients estimated in the present study, the mean expected difference in phenotypic BCS on a 1 to 5 scale between the top and bottom 10% on genetic merit for BCS or angularity was 0.28 and 0.31 units, respectively. Results from the present study clearly provide confidence that genetic merit for BCS or angularity based on a single visual assessment in primiparous cows is useful to breed for cows of better body condition, irrespective of stage of lactation or parity.
FunderDepartment of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland
Grant Number17/S/235 (GreenBreed); 16/RC/3835 (VistaMilk)
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of The Animal Consortium.